Management Matters: Debrief Your Team

When the project has been completed, many teams assume that their work is done. They can exhale and now move on. However, taking that final bow to applause when the project is over (or breathing a sigh of relief as you put that job or those people in your rear view mirror is not the end. Nor is calculating the ROI.

The last thing your team should be doing before turning out the lights and moving on is often the very thing that teams don’t do. The part of the project that gets the least amount of attention has the biggest impact on employee development and it’s time you gave it the attention it deserves.

If you really want to develop a high performing work or project team, spend some time assessing and articulating the lessons learned. If you don’t know how success (or less than a terrific outcome) came about, you won’t have much luck when you try to reproduce it and your team members will have a difficult time when thy move on to lead their own teams.


  • Goals - Did the teammembers knew what the goal (or goals) was for the team. Did they change over the course of the project? If so, how was that communicated? Was there a priority to those goals?
  • Roles – Were team members clear about the role they had on the team as well as the role of others? Were there opportunities for members to tackle roles where they could learn and gain experience?
  • Hope and Reality – What did people expect to happen at the outset of the project and what actually did happen? Were there any gaps between those two things, and if so - what accounted for them?
  • Keep – What went well and why? Future teams will want to know what worked. It is also good for team members to have group and individual success’s encouraged and articulated.
  • Toss- What would be done differently now that you know somethings and how? Everything that could be improved upon can contribute to a better experience and outcome the next time. Everything from pre-team planning, meeting logistics, communication processes, conflict resolution, obtaining resources goal and role clarity, and support, and potential problem protection can be assessed.

Lessons learned is how continuous learning, development, and improvement can be woven into the fabric of your team experience and your organizational culture. I’ve also found that adding refreshments can make it feel more like a welcome celebratory task!

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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